Lone Ruin's Hannes Rahm Loves the 'Surprises' that Come with Random Generation


Roguelikes and roguelites are a nigh-inescapable genre in the modern video game industry, and popular early indies like The Binding of Isaac drove that conversation. Though contemporary AAA releases like Housemarque’s Returnal use the conventions of procedural generation and permadeath to great effect, dozens more indie games are released every year that innovate on the genre’s presentation and mechanics. One of the first to hit digital storefronts in 2023 is Cuddle Monster Games’ Lone Ruin, which launched for PC and Switch on January 12.


The idea of roguelike level generation and varied runs with new tools is appealing to both developers and players, according to Lone Ruin‘s chief developer Hannes Rahm, who served as programmer, designer, and artist. From a creative perspective, Rahm also enjoys getting computer systems to “do stuff for me,” even if this can be one of the more challenging aspects of design. Game Rant spoke to Rahm about creating an appealing game world and the difficult aspects of solo development.

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Lone Ruin: Creating a Game with ‘Juicy’ Design

Lone Ruin is Rahm’s second project under the Cuddle Monster Games banner following 2019’s Hell is Other Demons. The only aspects of development he received outside contributions for is music and sound design, with Lone Ruin‘s soundscape being handled by Rahm’s brother. Lone Ruin was also published by Super Rare Originals, the indie-focused publishing arm of a physical print retailer for Switch. Other Super Rare Originals as of this writing include Medallion Games’ Grapple Dog and Louis Waloschek’s upcoming The Gecko Gods.

“Making any game is hard,” Rahm said, but it’s especially challenging to make one as a single person – being the designer, coder, artist, 3D modeler, and more. He’s particularly proud of Lone Ruin‘s visuals and general “juiciness,” which Rahm defines as making sure all actions have reactions. “Enemies wobble and flash when hit, the screen shakes when things explode, etc.” Rahm also likes to play with visual contrast in color, detail intensity, and lighting.

“A part of it is also exaggerating things that the art style isn’t particularly good at. For example, having excessively low-poly geometry or textures with super blocky pixels.”

The game’s Vaporwave-esque mix of cyans, pinks, and purples are “recurring colors in my work,” Rahm said, partially inspired by the strong use of color in Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter and designed to create uplifting experiences.

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Embracing the Randomness of Roguelike Games

cuddle monster hannes rahm interview january 2023

Of all the hats he wears, Rahm said being a game designer is “easily the most difficult.” Coding is “sometimes logically challenging,” even with the benefits of getting to look into values and logic flows while a game runs. “For a game designer, the computer is the brain,” according to Rahm. While he said computers generally do what people tell them to, “It’s hard enough to introspect into your own mind, let alone others.”

The Swedish indie game developer feels a lot of his contemporaries embrace roguelike design because of the different outcomes one gets jumping into each run. “Playing the same static levels and items over and over and over again during development gets really grating,” he said. Rahm finds it personally exciting to see random generations driven by computer systems.

“I love making little generators for levels, enemy spawn waves. The most exciting part is when the system surprises you with something you didn’t know could happen.”

He highlights one simple level generator that gave him a “lovely” two-tiered floating island with the top side bathed in sunlight and the lower shrouded in shadows. “It was quite poetic, actually.” This can also result in funny incorrect generations, as with a different gun generator that produced a weapon with too many barrels after Rahm set the wrong parameters.

Lone Ruin received a mixed reception from players at launch, with a lot of “fair criticism over in the Steam reviews.” Rahm is currently prototyping ideas to improve the experience and replayability for unsatisfied players, including potential systems reminiscent of Slay the Spire‘s Ascension or Hades‘ Heat that would add modifiers for difficulty and more variance. There are also cut features and perks that could appear in future patches, adding to the game’s roguelike design even if there’s no intent to add persistent meta-progression.

Lone Ruin is available now on PC and Switch.

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